WATCH THE SHADOWS Excerpt and Giveaway

Watch The Shadows by Robin Winter
ISBN: 9780986326509
Publisher: White Whisker Books
Publication Date:  April 20, 2015

In the college town of Isla Vista, California, small, odd things start happening. Science-geek Nicole notes the crows are leaving.  Meg Burdigal can’t find her tabby cat, Schrand. Brian the postman feels uneasy at the rustlings, the shadows he’s seen at the edge of his vision on his delivery route in town. Now Nicole sees fewer and fewer homeless in the park. Using her knowledge of biology and forensics, Nicole searches for answers—but will anyone take the horror she finds seriously?

Read an excerpt:

Chapter Thirteen, p. 41

“You’re bending the covers,” a voice said. “I could tell on you.”

Nicole jumped, looked up. Did she know this man? He coughed, a hoarse deep cough, and she thought she smelled something rank on his breath. A big guy with slightly stooped shoulders, as though he wanted to look smaller or younger than he was inside his greatcoat. Smooth shaven. She’d seen him before; yes, she had. One of the homeless ladies had been throwing some stones at him as if she were really mad. 

Nicole stood up and stepped back, angry, but decided that not answering him was her best choice. She knew how to treat a book, and she’d decided before she sat to read that she was going to buy this one.

“Princess, you’re an arrogant bitch; that’s what’s wrong with you. Had your way paid all your life, I bet. It won’t be like that forever. Things happen—even to the best of us.”

He continued talking after her as she strode toward the cash register.

Mr. Gorham took a moment to realize she was waiting, and Nicole fidgeted, not wanting the big man in the back of the store to follow her. It was growing dark outside, and she knew she was expected at home.

“Oh, Nicole,” he said, and Nicole wished he hadn’t said her name in case the man was listening. “Is this all for you tonight? Better get yourself along home. Your dad still off in DC?”

“No,” she lied. She liked Mr. Gorham, but he had no business tattling her private life in public like that. In the dull glow of the green shaded desk lamp, he looked like a skinny gnome from a children’s book as he counted her change. She assumed he’d never get a cash register. He always figured everything down to the last fraction of tax on a pad of paper with a gnawed pencil stub.

“You win on the tax today, young Nicole. Comes out to .344. Bingo.”

He always joked like that. Nicole thanked him and checked back over her shoulder, but she couldn’t see the big man. Maybe he was looking over the back shelves. Nicole ducked out the door and ran the first three blocks, cutting, after that, across the corner of the park. Slowing down, she felt much better. That was probably the sort of guy her mother would have told her to counter-aggress. Some people needed to be swatted back, or they would keep leaning in on you. But it was hard to tell sometimes, and she hadn’t wanted to engage with him in any way. It was a choice. This part of the street was better lit, and she slowed down even more, patting her book. 

But it was gone.

“No; oh shit,” she said out loud and the sound of her own voice surprised her. She looked back down the street. Twilight and past. Mom might not notice if she were late. She thought about leaving the book lost, and the idea hurt. Silly though it seemed, she felt as if the book would miss her, feel deserted. Dropped in some gutter with the stale beer and coke cans, meaning nothing to anyone but her. 

She began to retrace her way.

“Shit shit shit shit shit,” she said, and the word soothed her with repetition. She kept imagining she saw the flutter of pages just there, under the bush, or no, over in the shadow of the verge by the Volkswagen with rust spots. She’d spent her own good money on that paperback right down to the tax. She wasn’t going to let it lie abandoned somewhere in the street. She jogged through the park, straining her eyes, then let herself walk again. That’s what you got for being a nerd. If she were a track star, she wouldn’t run out of breath this easy.

Two blocks from the bookstore on Sabado, she saw it, and she swallowed in relief. Right smack in the middle of the pavement. She was so focused on it that, when another shape bent down and another hand reached for it, she almost blurted thank you.

It was the big man from the back of the bookstore. He was holding his coat closed with one hand, awkwardly, and her first thought was —he’s a flasher. I can scream for Mr. Gorham, but he’s probably reading.

“Someone lost her book,” the big man said. He looked like all the bullies she had ever seen coming up through school. He had that expression with the eyes narrowed in anticipation, dandling the book as if to tempt her to snatch it back. He laughed, and she wanted to hit him.

Be smart, Nicole; getting involved with this guy isn’t worth it. You know that, don’t you?

Then two things happened. A sound came from Mr. Gorham’s shop, probably nothing more than a dropped book, but it made the big man jerk, and when he did a magazine fell out of his coat. Without a plan, Nicole leapt forward, swept the book from his fingers, and was off in a start that would have done the track coach credit. She had never run so fast. She heard a shuffle, felt the movement of air as if he grabbed after her, but Nicole knew better than to hesitate. Or look back.

About the author:

Robin Winter first wrote and illustrated a manuscript on “Chickens and their Diseases” in second grade, continuing to both write and draw, ever since. Born in Nebraska, she’s lived in a variety of places: Nigeria, New Hampshire, upper New York state and now, California. She pursues a career in oil painting under the name of Robin Gowen, specializing in landscape. Her work can be viewed at Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara or on-line at

Robin is married to a paleobotanist, who corrects the science in both her paintings and her stories. She’s published science fiction short stories, a dystopian science fiction novel, Future Past, and Night Must Wait, a historical novel about the Nigerian Civil War.

You may contact Robin or read her blog at:, or on her website:


Enter to win a print or ebook copy (winner’s choice) of Watch the Shadows by Robin Winter. This giveaway is limited to US residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM ET on 03/31/2015. Winner will be announced by 9:00 AM ET on 04/01/2015. To enter use the Rafflecopter form below:

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2015 Book 91: FULL TILT Review

Full Tilt by Rick Mofina
ISBN: 9780778317456 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781474027861 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OHV6MBO (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: MIRA


Deep in the woods of upstate New York a woman flees a blazing barn. She is burned beyond recognition, and her dying words point police to a labyrinth of “confinement rooms”—rooms designed to hold human beings captive—where they make other chilling discoveries.


In Manhattan, Kate Page, a single mom and reporter with a newswire service, receives a heart-stopping call from a detective on the case. A guardian angel charm found at the scene fits the description of the one belonging to Kate’s sister, Vanessa, who washed away after a car crash in a mountain river twenty years ago.


Kate has spent much of her life searching for the truth behind her little sister’s disappearance. Now, a manhunt for a killer who’s kept a collection of victims prisoner for years without detection becomes her final chance to either mourn Vanessa’s death—or save her life.

Kate Page suffered devastation after devastation as a child. Her happy family was torn apart when her parents died in a hotel fire. She and her younger sister were bounced from one family member to another before winding up in foster care. Her foster parents then died in a tragic car accident. That same car accident also took the life of her younger sister, Vanessa, or did it? Evidence found at a current murder scene points to the possibility that Vanessa may have survived the car accident. Is it possible she survived that tragedy only to become the victim of a sadistic serial rapist and murderer? 

What do you do if you think your long presumed dead sister is the victim of a serial abductor/murderer? Well, if you’re a news reporter and Kate Page you report on the story and launch your own investigation to uncover as much information as possible about the murderer. The more Kate uncovers about the life of this twisted killer, the more she places the life of her sister, and possibly herself in peril. Kate’s investigation and reports place her on the hit list of the killer. Will the killer be able to exact his revenge against Kate? Will law enforcement be able to find Vanessa before it’s too late? 

Full Tilt was a fast-paced suspense thriller read and the second book in the Kate Page series (Whirlwind is the first in this series). I found the characters to be wholly realistic and the action believable. Kate’s investigation takes her all across the United States and Canada. I did find parts of the ending to be somewhat predictable, but it did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. Mr. Mofina provides an amazing cast of characters that include: Kate, Kate’s daughter Grace, Kate’s bosses – Reeka Beck and Chuck Laneer, various other news people, assorted law enforcement officers in the United States and Canada, Viper the computer hacker, the victims, and the killer. I really liked Kate and could appreciate her unwillingness to abide by the restrictions placed upon her by law enforcement and her employer when it came to finding her sister. If you’re looking for a taut, well-written suspense thriller to read, look no further; add Full Tilt to your TBR list or simply grab a copy to read as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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2015 Book 90: THE POCKET WIFE Review

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
ISBN: 9780062362858 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062362872 (ebook)
ASIN: B00L7X6ZQC (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow

An amazing talent makes her debut with this stylish psychological thriller—with the compelling intrigue of The Silent Wife and Turn of Mind and the white-knuckle pacing of Before I Go to Sleep—in which a woman suffering from bipolar disorder cannot remember if she murdered her friend during a breakdown.

Dana Catrell is horrified to learn she was the last person to see her neighbor Celia alive. Suffering from a devastating mania, a result of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia’s death. As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana struggles to clear her name before her own demons win out.

Is murder on her mind – or is it all in her head?

The closer she comes to piecing together shards of her broken memory, the more Dana falls apart. Is there a murderer lurking inside her . . . or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again? A story of marriage, murder and madness, The Pocket Wife explores the world through the foggy lens of a woman on the edge. 

Dana Catrell has a history of manic episodes due to bipolar disorder. Her husband and son know that she’s in a manic phase and are encouraging her to see her therapist. Dana knows that she’s close to spiraling out of control, but she also thinks that she just needs to find certain answers before she commits to treatment. Dana needs to find out if she murdered her neighbor and whether or not her husband is having an affair. 

The Pocket Wife begins with Dana waking up with little memory of her afternoon. She hears a siren and discovers an ambulance at her neighbor Celia’s home. Dana knows that she was at Celia’s home earlier in the day, but she doesn’t remember coming home or going to sleep. Finding out that Celia was murdered causes Dana to question whether or not she’s capable of extreme violence. The primary reason behind this thinking is that Celia has indicated that Dana’s husband was having an affair and the evidence was a cell-phone picture. These memories are what send Dana off on a haphazard quest for the truth. But will searching for answers to these questions give Dana peace of mind or send her off the deep end.

I found The Pocket Wife to be a rather fast-paced and enjoyable albeit disturbing read. Dana’s thoughts and actions jump around quite a bit due to her mania and, as a result, the story jumps around. Is Dana paranoid or is someone sending her threatening notes? Is she seeing things or was there a person in a hoodie in her backyard? It’s difficult to separate fiction from reality since she’s also hearing the voice of her mother and her Saint Christopher statue is winking and nodding at her. Her husband Peter recognizes that she needs help but doesn’t really do anything to help her. There were times when I felt just as unhinged as Dana simply because it felt as if I was falling down the rabbit hole with her. Ms. Crawford does an incredible job at portraying the behavior of a person in a manic phase of bipolar disorder, down to the notion that “I don’t need/want medication” way of thinking. If you enjoy reading psychological suspense thrillers then you’ll definitely want to read The Pocket Wife.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Guest Post: Author Jeanne Matthews

Jeanne Matthews, author of Where the Bones Are Buried, is visiting The Book Diva’s Reads today. Most writers want things to go just right in their stories, but Ms. Matthews will be discussing the ways a mystery writer purposefully makes things go wrong.

by Jeanne Matthews

Dreaming up ways that things can go haywire is a requisite for any writer of mystery novels. The poet Robert Burns could have been describing the plot of a modern whodunit when he said, “The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley.” Things usually have to gang agley for both the villain and the detective before justice prevails.  

The villain thinks he’s committed the perfect murder, but something goes wrong. He’s forgotten some tiny detail that stirs the detective’s suspicions, or maybe a witness sees what he’s done and tries to blackmail him. What if there’s a freak snowstorm and all the airports are closed and his alibi falls apart? The number of ways in which a plan can go south is limited only by the writer’s imagination. We’re forever asking ourselves “What if?”

While the villain is trying to fix his mistakes and cover his tracks, the detective is of course fighting his or her own personal demons and professional battles. Whether one writes hard-boiled thrillers or cozies, from the first page on, the hero’s life grows ever more complicated. The author throws a barrage of obstacles in his path and the courage and determination with which he overcomes them shows the reader what he’s made of.  

Some obstacles are psychological. Maybe his wife was killed by a bullet meant for him and he’s wracked by guilt. Maybe he drinks too much or has PTSD. And some obstacles are external and related to the investigation. His prime suspect turns out to be innocent as a lamb, or he finds the smoking gun only to have it vanish.

Female sleuths must suffer, too, even the amateurs. You can’t handle your heroine with kid gloves or the story will be boring. Pile on the conflict – a hateful boss, a vengeful ex-husband, a lying best friend, a wicked stepmother. The key to creating an interesting character, and an interesting story, is coming up with the right mix of “what ifs” and knocking everyone’s best-laid plans sideways and crooked.

I love thinking up possible misunderstandings and screw-ups and snafus. In my most recent book, Where the Bones Are Buried, I send not one, not two, but three human wrecking balls crashing into Dinah Pelerin’s happy love nest in Berlin. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure how she would deal with this whammy. They say that adversity builds character. It certainly reveals character. In adversity, all of my characters, including Dinah herself, tend to lie, a quality which I think makes them very human. Not all of their lies are evil or pernicious. Some are merely defensive and self-justifying. But lies tend to snarl things up and lead to even worse trouble. And when somebody tells a whopper, it can hurl the protagonist’s hopes and dreams and aspirations so gang agley she may never get over it – especially if the source of the whopper is her mother.    

Poor Dinah. But if I have taken a perverse pleasure in making her life difficult, in the end she has the pleasure of unsnarling the lies and solving the murder. As in real life, the achievement is sweeter for having gone through such hardship.

Author Bio:

Jeanne Matthews was born and raised in Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism and has worked as a copywriter, a high school English and Drama teacher, and a paralegal. She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband, who is a law professor.


Catch Up:

About the book:

Where the Bones Are Buried by Jeanne Matthews
ISBN: 9781464203466 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781464203480 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781464203473 (paperback – large print)
ISBN: 9781464203497 (ebook)
ASIN: B00RW0BJYW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication date:  January 6, 2015

Dinah Pelerin has finally put her life in order. Living in Berlin with her boyfriend Thor, she has landed a job teaching Native American cultures at the university. She’s never felt happier. And then her Seminole mother Swan shows up with a crazy scheme to blackmail a German tax dodger and dredges up a secret Dinah has kept hidden from the IRS and from straight-arrow Norwegian Thor, a former cop now with hush-hush international duties.

Germans harbor a century-long fascination with the American Wild West and American Indians. Some enthusiasts dress up as Indians and adopt Indian names. Like Der Indianer Club which has invited Swan to a powwow where she plans to meet her blackmail victim. Dinah tries to head her off, but arrives at the scene too late. A man has been killed and scalped and Swan quickly becomes the prime suspect. Torn between love for her mother and dismay at her incessant lies, Dinah sets out to find the killer—hoping the killer doesn’t turn out to share her DNA. But Swan isn’t the only liar. Everyone is lying about something. Margaret, Swan’s dead ex-husband’s former wife, come to the city with Swan. Dinah’s teen-age “ward.” Thor. Especially Dinah. Ghosts of Germany’s terrible history haunt Berlin while she faces exorcising a hateful ghost of her own.


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2015 Book 88: MY FATHER’S WIVES Review

My Father’s Wives by Mike Greenberg
ISBN: 9780062325860 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062333025 (ebook)
ASIN: B00HU5NE9M (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow

Jonathan Sweetwater has been blessed with money, a fulfilling career, great kids and Claire, his smart, gorgeous, sophisticated wife. But there is one thing Jonathan never had: a relationship with his father.

Percival Sweetwater III has been absent from his son’s life since Jonathan was nine years old. A five-term U.S. senator, now dead, Percy was beloved by presidents, his constituents, and women alike, especially the five women who married him after Jonathan’s mother. 

Jonathan hasn’t thought about Percy or the hole he left in his life for years. Dedicated to Claire and his family, he’s nothing like his serial monogamist father. But then Jonathan discovers evidence that everything in his marriage may not be as perfect as he thought. Hurt and uncertain what to do, he knows that the only way to move forward is to go back.

On this quest for understanding—about himself, about manhood, about marriage—Jonathan decides to track down his father’s five ex-wives. His journey will take him from cosmopolitan cities to the mile-high mountains to a tropical island—and ultimately back to confront the one thing Jonathan has that his father never did: home.

Jonathan Sweetwater seems to have it all: a great job, a perfect family, and a wonderful marriage. His childhood wasn’t perfect as he hadn’t seen his father since his ninth birthday. His mother was wonderful and supportive and his father, although a powerful political figure, had been married six times. After coming home early one day and witnessing an event that has the ability to tear apart his “perfect” life, Jonathan goes on a quest to find out more about his father.

Imagine arriving home early from work and seeing someone that looks like your wife and another man getting dressed after a tryst in your guest room. Do you confront your wife and ask what is going on or do you ignore it? This is exactly the situation Jonathan finds himself in when he arrives from work early one day before going out-of-town on business. Most people would either ask what is going on, hire a detective to find out what’s going on or jump to conclusions and end the relationship damn the circumstances. Jonathan does hire a detective to find out what’s going on, but he also decides that now is the perfect time to learn more about his deceased father, the great senator, Percival Sweetwater III.

Mixed in with business trips over the course of a two-week period, Jonathan meets with his mother and his father’s other wives. Ostensibly these trips are to find out more about his father, but the more Jonathan learns about his father the more we realize he is trying to find out if he is anything like his father and striving for something that cannot be obtained, perfection.

Although I enjoyed reading My Father’s Wives and found it to be a rather fast-paced read, I did find it be somewhat predictable (no I won’t give you the exact details but there is quite a bit of foreshadowing in Jonathan’s interactions with one other character). Jonathan’s quest for more information may be a bit more literal than most, but it is interesting to read about his struggle to learn more about his father and in turn about himself. I found most of the characters to be completely realistic and reasonably well developed. I wish the author had placed a bit more attention on Jonathan’s wife Claire and who she was as a wife and mother (we learn quite a bit about Claire before their marriage but not enough about who she is now), but this deficiency doesn’t detract from the overall story. There aren’t any bad guys in this story, just humans showing varying degrees of human weaknesses. If you’re interested in reading about a modern quest for truth, then you’ll definitely want to read My Father’s Wives.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Blast: THE DEAD ROOM by Stephanie Erickson

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The Dead Room - Ebook

322 years after the apocalypse, the world has changed, but her people have not. Secrets, lies, and manipulations endure among a small group of survivors taking refuge on an island in the Northern Pacific.

No one knows what claimed so many lives over three centuries ago, and no one asks, except Ashley Wortham. She can feel the secrets around her, begging to be uncovered.

But the nine elders who govern the island guard their secrets jealously. They believe the islanders know what they need to, and they hide their secrets behind a ruse of peace. But when Ashley, and her best friend Mason, go down the rabbit hole, no one is prepared for the truths they uncover. What will they do when they discover the downfall of humanity lies within their own island, deep inside the dead room?

Put The Dead Room on your TBR list here

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Read an excerpt from the book:
Approx. 322 years after the apocalypse
Chapter 1.

The body lay on a two-piece metal pyre in the center of the clearing. Nothing more than the skeleton of a table, the pyre was simply used for the display and transport of the bodies. Burning the dead was a custom from the time before.

The corpse’s blue cotton, long-sleeved shirt was buttoned all the way to the top to hide his injuries, and the matching navy slacks had recently been pressed. With his hands folded over his abdomen, Wesley looked rather dashing. Ashley wished her match had actually been dashing in life.

She wondered who would wear that outfit next. Nothing was ever wasted on the island. Not even the clothes of a dead man. She herself had worn the clothes off a dead woman’s back. Squeamishness was a luxury no one could afford.

 Although “new” clothes were made on the island, from animal skins and the cotton grown in the farmlands, they were typically reserved for the higher ups—elders, doctors, and the like. Cotton was difficult to grow in the cold climate, and the clothes were made entirely by hand. Once it had been worn and patched a few times by those with power, new clothing was eventually passed down to the lower branches of society.

But, it wasn’t just clothing that moved on after an islander died. All of their belongings were redistributed among those in need. The dead’s family wasn’t allowed to keep anything they didn’t need. Sentimentality was a lost emotion to the islanders. Reusing everything was essential, even if the previous owner was a dead man.

It had only bothered her once—the first time she’d seen one of her father’s outfits on another man. Even then, at the tender age of ten, she’d understood it was bound to happen eventually. She just hadn’t expected it to happen so quickly. Only a week after his funeral, she’d spotted one of her neighbors walking down the road in her father’s clothes. She ran to him, hoping her father’s scent might still linger on his shirt. But the man neither embraced her nor offered her any sympathy. He only looked at her with wide eyes, the horror and disgust plain on his face.

Death on the island was such a strange thing. She’d lost track of how many funerals she’d been to in her lifetime—at least one a month. Unexpected deaths, like that of her match, added to the average.

Only three of the losses had actually meant something to her—her mother, her father, and now Wesley. Her father’s funeral was, of course, devastating, made more so by the fact that they’d shared the same first name. Everything the elders said about him could have also been applied to her. How they were thankful for “Ashley’s life,” how they wished “Ashley peace.” It sent shivers down her spine.

Once, she’d asked him why they shared a name. His mother’s name had been Ashley, he’d explained, as had her mother, and her father before that. On and on, down the line, the name had traveled, until it had reached Ashley. And one day, as was their tradition, it would go to her own child.

The funeral for her mother, who had been taken by a simple cold that escalated into something much worse, was nothing more than a hazy memory. Still, Ashley missed her mother terribly and felt incomplete without her. She searched for her whenever the jasmine got caught on the wind, because her mother had loved to wear the flower behind her ear.

Wesley’s funeral was a problem. She wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about it. The loss of her parents had left her feeling completely alone. She’d hoped to find love again with her match, but he’d left her terribly disappointed.

Now that he was gone, her emotions warred with themselves. Relief was the biggest player fighting for space in her mind. Relief to have escaped the abuse and the pressures of being the next elder’s wife. Guilt came in at a close second, but not because she regretted killing her match.

It was because her best friend was being blamed for it.

About the author:

Stephanie - unseen
Stephanie Erickson has always had a passion for the written word. She pursued her love of literature at Flagler College, in St. Augustine, FL, where she graduated with a BA in English. She has received several honors in her writing career, including recognition in the 72nd Annual Writer’s Digest Competition.

After graduation, she married and followed her husband in pursuit of his dream. The Cure and The Blackout were written to reignite Stephanie’s passion, when she found the time. Now that he is settled in his career, it’s her turn to devote more time and energy into writing.

Stephanie currently has 3 projects planned for 2015. Her upcoming release is well underway and is slated for a March 2015 publication date.

Stephanie, of course, loves to read and write. She also enjoys living on the beach on the Florida’s Treasure Coast. Most of all, she and her husband are in love with their baby girl.

Follow Stephanie on

Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter/Website | Literary Addicts

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2015 Book 84: THE BOOKSELLER Review

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
ISBN: 9780062333001 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062333025 (ebook)
ASIN: B00L7WZDES (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Harper

A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams

Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . . 

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?

As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?

Katharyn “Kitty” Miller is a single, late-thirties business owner in Denver, Colorado. She runs a bookstore with her best friend, Frieda Green. Kitty had worked as a school teacher but found that she couldn’t handle the classroom environment very well. Kitty’s parents are taking a long vacation in Hawaii. Although she misses her parents, she is kept busy with her job and her wonderful dream world as a married mother of three.

Katharyn Andersson seems to only live in Kitty’s dreams. She’s married and has three children, triplets – Michael, Mitch, and Missy. Her life as Mrs. Andersson is almost perfect, except she is not quite sure how to deal with her autistic son Michael, she is estranged from her best friend Frieda, and she seems to be increasingly forgetful about what is real and what isn’t anymore. This confusion is exacerbated by the fact that her dreams are about her single life as Kitty Miller. 

In Kitty’s life she never met Lars, he died before they met. Her dream home has never been built, and most importantly she is still friends with Frieda. Kitty and Katharyn’s lives seem to run on parallel courses. It’s the same year. The same events are taking place. The basics are the same – friendship with Frieda, operating the bookstore Sisters with Frieda, and her parents’ trip to Hawaii. Their lives diverged in the mid-1950s when Katharyn actually saved Lars’ life and they eventually married and started a family. 

I found The Bookseller to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. The lives of Kitty/Katharyn were filled with the normal joys and sorrows, although Katharyn seemed to have suffered more (no I won’t tell you how she suffered . . . read the book!). Although I knew that Kitty and Katharyn are the same person living seemingly different lives, it felt as if they were two completely different people. Each life was vivid and incredibly realistic. Along with Kitty/Katharyn, I found myself asking “which life is real?” Yes, Ms. Swanson provides an answer at the end and the end neatly ties up the disparities in their lives. I found it difficult to pigeonhole The Bookseller. Is it a psychological thriller? Is it historical fiction? Is it literary fiction? Or is it possibly a combination of all three. I can say that The Bookseller was an intriguing book that forced me to sit and think about life and the choices we make. This was a book that required me to take a step back and think about the story for a few hours after I finished reading it, simply because it was just that good and I couldn’t think about reading anything else for awhile. If you enjoy reading fiction that’s a little different, that incorporates heart-warming and heart-wrenching drama, and is well-written with wholly believable characters and plausible action then you’ll definitely want to read The Bookseller. Don’t just add this to your TBR list, set aside time to read it as soon as possible. You won’t be disappointed. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Swanson in the future. 

(NOTE: I prefer the cover for the ebook and Kindle version of this book as it exemplifies the different lives and lifestyles of Kitty and Katharyn.)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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4th Blogiversary Celebration and Giveaway

The Book Diva’s Reads is turning four. I’m extremely grateful to my readers, as well as the authors, publishers, book publicists, book blog tour companies, and others that have supported The Book Diva’s Reads by providing books, book tours, and guest author spots over the years.

Yes, I’m celebrating my fourth blogiversary and as a way of saying “thank you” to my loyal readers, I’m giving away one gently used – in excellent condition Kindle Fire HD7. (This tablet was used for less than 5 days earlier this year when my Android tablet decided to stop working and I was waiting for the replacement tablet to arrive.)

This Magenta Kindle Fire HD7 (4th Generation) features: 7″ HD display (1280 x 800), 8GB memory, WiFi connectivity, front and rear cameras, quad core, Dolby sound, an Amazon 5W power adapter, and a USB charging cable. 

I wish I could make this giveaway open worldwide, but it is limited to residents of the US and Canada…sorry. This giveaway starts at 12:01 AM ET Sunday, March 8th and will end at 11:59 PM ET Sunday, March 29th. The winner will be announced on March 30th.

Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Blog comments, although appreciated, are not considered a valid entry. If you don’t live in the US or Canada you are not eligible to enter, sorry.

2015 Book 79: THE BLACK WIDOW Review

The Black Widow by Wendy Corsi Staub
ISBN: 9780062222435 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062222442 (ebook)
ASIN: B00FJ33276 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Harper

In a chilling new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub, one woman looking for love online is entangled in a killer’s terrifying scheme . . .

In the moonlight, shovelfuls of earth fall on a wooden crate at the bottom of a deep pit. Soon the hole will be filled and covered over with leaves, erasing all trace of the victim below, waking to the horror of being buried alive . . .

Newly divorced Gaby Duran isn’t really expecting to find her soul mate on a dating site like InTune. She just needs a distraction from pining over her ex-husband, Ben, and the happy marriage they once had. And she’s wise enough to know that online, the truth doesn’t always match the profile. Almost everyone lies a little–or a lot.

But Gaby quickly discovers there is much more at stake than her lonely heart. Local singles are going missing after making online connections. And a predator is searching again for the perfect match. One who will fulfill every twisted desire . . . or die trying. 

Ben and Gaby Duran had a perfect marriage until the death of their child. Gaby was mired in depression, guilt, and anger and Ben wasn’t able to breakthrough and help Gaby with her grief. The marriage ended in divorce. Now Ben and Gaby both want to make a fresh start. Both have profiles on a local dating site, unfortunately one of these profiles catches the attention of a killer.

The Black Widow was a fast-paced and tension-filled suspense-thriller read. It took me awhile to get into the story simply because there are four stories going on and it was a little difficult for me to switch from a Gaby storyline to a Ben storyline then over to a police storyline and back to the killer’s storyline. Once I got all of the storylines straight in my head and understood the interrelationship among all stories the reading pace picked up and I simply had to know what happens next. What happens next is a lot! 

There’s the story of the police investigating missing Hispanic adult males: there’s Ben and Gaby reconnecting after being divorced and apart; there’s Ivy on the hunt for a missing co-worker; and, there’s the killer out to recreate her past. Okay, there’s a lot more going on (abduction, mental illness, arson, and murder), but if I tell you too much you won’t need to read the book, and if you enjoy reading suspense-thrillers then you’ll definitely want to read this book. I’ve read and enjoyed numerous books by Ms. Staub and The Black Widow was another enjoyable read. The characters were fully developed and wholly believable, and the action was plausible. Was there anything I didn’t like about this book or the story? Not really . . . okay, I read an advance reader digital copy of the book and it didn’t feature any breaks between the changes in character stories. That made it a little difficult for me to switch gears mentally and keep up with the story initially, however, that wasn’t enough to stop me from purchasing a copy of The Black Widow for my library. 

Watch the book trailer:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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2015 Book 75: THE RELUCTANT MIDWIFE Review

The Reluctant Midwife: A Hope River Novel by Patricia Harman
ISBN: 9780062358240 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062358257 (ebook)
ASIN: B00KVI9DP4 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow and Company

The USA Today bestselling author of The Midwife of Hope River returns with a heartfelt sequel, a novel teeming with life and full of humor and warmth, one that celebrates the human spirit

The Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard. Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children. Luckily, Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for them. While she can handle most situations, Becky is still uneasy helping women deliver their babies. For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend Patience Murphy. 

Though she is happy to be back in Hope River, time and experience have tempered Becky’s cheerfulness-as tragedy has destroyed the vibrant spirit of her former employer Dr Isaac Blum, who has accompanied her. Patience too has changed. Married and expecting a baby herself, she is relying on Becky to keep the mothers of Hope River safe. 

But becoming a midwife and ushering precious new life into the world is not Becky’s only challenge. Her skills and courage will be tested when a calamitous forest fire blazes through a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. And she must find a way to bring Isaac back to life and rediscover the hope they both need to go on.

Full of humor and compassion, The Reluctant Midwife is a moving tribute to the power of optimism and love to overcome the most trying circumstances and times, and is sure to please fans of the poignant Call the Midwife series. 

Becky Myers is used to hard work and a life filled with disappointment. She grew up with privilege as the daughter of a local physician in Vermont. She married a doctor before the Great War and continued to live in New England. Sadly, her husband was never quite the same after his return from the war and committed suicide shortly after his return home. Determined to start over, Becky received additional medical training and eventually settled in West Virginia as a nurse with the public health department. She then left West Virginia and moved to Virginia to become the nurse in the practice of a local physician. When that physician becomes catatonic and she has nowhere else to go, she and Dr. Isaac Blum return to Hope River, West Virginia. Becky thought that Virginia had been hit hard by the depression, but West Virginia and its residents are struggling. For the first time in her life, Becky is dependent upon the kindness of strangers to ensure she and Dr. Blum won’t starve. The one thing that Hope River needs is another midwife, since Becky’s friend Patience is unable to meet the demands of the county. Unfortunately midwifery is the last thing that Becky feels comfortable providing, but she soon realizes that she either provides this service or starves. 

First, let me say if you haven’t read The Midwife of Hope River then you need to read it as soon as possible. Is it possible to understand the action in The Reluctant Midwife without reading The Midwife of Hope River first? Yes it is, but simply trust me on this one and read The Midwife of Hope River before you read The Reluctant Midwife. Now that I have that out of the way, the second, and by far the most important thing is that I loved both of these books. I don’t mean these books are nice, even though they are, or just that they are well written, and again they are . . . I mean that Ms. Harman has the ability to craft stories with characters that are so vivid and colorful that you’ll want to know more about them. 

The action in both books is portrayed realistically and without any sugarcoating. Life in the early 1930s was hard for a large number of people across the United States. Unemployment was high and social services were all but unheard of in many areas. Even with the harsh, hardscrabble life for most of the people portrayed in both books, there is always an underlying sense of tenacity and hope. Becky gets to witness this first hand and quickly comes to realize that even though she and her former boss, Dr. Blum, may be experiencing difficulties, they are also blessed. Ms. Harman reintroduces the reader to many characters from The Midwife of Hope River, namely the midwife Patience, her husband the veterinarian Daniel Hester, their son Danny, the pharmacist and his wife, the grocer and his wife, the colored pastor and his wife, and more. The reader is also introduced to new characters like Captain Wolfe from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, a few mafia men from Pennsylvania, the young worker-turned-medic from the CCC camp, and more. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt even makes a cameo appearance. There is suffering and death interspersed with joyous tales of survival and life.

It was fascinating to read about Becky’s transformation from this somewhat formal and privileged woman to one that becomes more relaxed, slightly more informal, and willing to do anything necessary to survive. Becky’s change begins when she becomes the caretaker of her former boss, Dr. Blum. Her change continues as she becomes more relaxed and self-assured with her midwifery skills, and is completed when she eventually becomes the nurse and sole medical personnel at the CCC camp. Obviously I can’t tell you everything about the book because then you won’t need to read it. There are stories within stories in both The Midwife of Hope River and The Reluctant Midwife. Ms. Harman provides the reader with insight into the primary characters, Patience and Becky, by giving glimpses into their pasts as well as their present lives. Did I enjoy reading these books? Yes! I read both cover-to-cover with minimal interruptions or breaks. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, you’ll definitely want to read these books. If you think you don’t like historical fiction, trust me and read these books. I can only hope that there will be more stories from Hope River in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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